1. Install an Antivirus Program
The first step of keeping viruses away is to protect your computer by downloading antivirus software. There are many programs out there that you can grab at varying prices. You might even be able to snag a free one.
Some people elect to download more than one antivirus software to be safe. It’s not a bad idea considering some programs protect against different issues than others. Once you’ve downloaded your program, run a scan at least once a week to make sure your computer stays virus-free.
2. Avoid Logging in as an Administrator
The thing about malware is that it often has the same authority as the person who’s logged into the computer. This means if you’re logged in as an administrator, the virus has access to pretty much everything on your device.
This being said, don’t log in as an administrator unless the situation calls for it. Use your personal account to browse the web and shop online. If your sister’s kids want to hop on your computer to play a game, have them use a guest account.
3. Keep All Your Software Up to Date
When your computer or internet browser prompts you to install the latest update, go ahead and let it. Developers make tons of changes when they crank out these updates. That includes patching up holes that hackers have managed to get in through.
If you tend to forget about your updates or put them off, set your device up to download them automatically. It’s a time-consuming process, but a necessary one.
4. Always Have a Backup
If your computer catches a virus, sometimes all you can do is take it somewhere for repairs or reset the entire thing to factory settings. Unless you make regular backups, you’ll lose every bit of your data and have to start over from the ground up.
There are several ways for you to make copies of your data. You can use an external hard drive. There are also free options such as Google Drive and the Cloud.
There’s always a chance that you might put some of the corrupted data on your new computer on accident. Do yourself a favor and scan all your files before you move them to the new device.
5. Create Strong Passwords
In many cases, a hacker can’t gain access to your computer and accounts unless they’re able to guess your password. Don’t use a code that’s personal to you such as your birthday.
It’s also a good idea to use a different password for every single account you’re a part of. If you use the same password for everything, all the hacker needs is one good guess to have access to your entire identity.
6. Keep an Eye on Your Downloads
If you happen to venture onto an unsecured website, a download might start. When that happens, you need to be quick on the draw. Cancel the download before it finishes, or you may find yourself battling a virus later.
If you’re using an outdated browser, there’s a good chance that the downloads will happen in the background. You won’t be able to stop them because you’re unaware that they’re happening. You’ll have to update your security settings in the browser to ensure this doesn’t occur.
7. Install an Ad-Blocker
Pop-up ads can never be trusted. If you click on them, there’s a chance they’ll send you to a sketchy site that will download a virus to your computer. The best way to avoid them is to keep them out of sight and out of mind.
Install an ad-blocker extension to your browser. There are tons of free ones out there that will do the trick. You still want to be careful while you’re browsing the web, even with a blocker.
Some sites won’t let you in unless you disable your extension. You’ll have to use your intuition to decide if it’s safe to do so or not.
8. Trust Your Gut When it Comes to Links
Some hackers won’t attack your computer directly. Instead, they’ll send you malicious links in the form of phishing emails. You would think that such emails would be obvious, but they aren’t.
The hacker will pretend to be a representative of your bank or some other official organization. If you click on the link they provide, your computer will become infected with malware.
The best way to avoid these scams is to trust your gut. No bank representative is going to ask for your personal information via an email, for example. Extensive spelling and grammar errors are another telltale sign.
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